Reynolds celebrates ‘getting back to normal’ with traditional turkey pardoning

By: - November 23, 2021 2:48 pm

Hailey, left, and Tanner Slinger of Ellsworth play with Squash and Stuffing, two turkeys their family raised that were “pardoned” Nov. 23, 2021, by Gov. Kim Reynolds outside Terrace Hill in Des Moines. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Gov. Kim Reynolds “pardoned” two turkeys Nov. 23, 2021, outside Terrace Hill in Des Moines. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

Squash and Stuffing, two turkeys raised near Ellsworth, will not be on the menu for Thanksgiving Day.

Gov. Kim Reynolds “pardoned” the two birds Tuesday as part of an annual tradition that also recognizes Iowa’s role as a major turkey producer.

Iowa ranks seventh in U.S. turkey production with about 12 million birds raised a year, according to the Iowa Turkey Federation.

“You know, as families in Iowa and around the country gather on Thursday and count their blessings, it brings me great pride that Iowa turkey growers help bring the main course to the table,” Reynolds said.

Iowa Turkey Federation president Ben Slinger’s family raised Squash and Stuffing, who roamed

Squash and Stuffing roam the lawn outside Terrace Hill during Gov. Kim Reynolds’ ceremonial turkey “pardoning” on Nov. 23, 2021. (Photo by Kathie Obradovich/Iowa Capital Dispatch)

around the back lawn of the governor’s mansion during the brief ceremony. They were named with the help of a fifth-grade class from West Marshall Elementary in State Center.

Reynolds said the lucky tom and hen would take up residence at Living History Farms in Urbandale.

She characterized this year’s holiday as a return to “normal” after 21 months of dealing with COVID-19.

“We’ve been through a rough couple of years. And so, you know, I love that life is getting back to normal and people can gather with families, safely and responsibly, and just really count their blessings. Because we have a lot to be thankful for,” Reynolds said.

COVID-19 continues to infect more than 1,400 people per day in Iowa, according to the New York Times’ seven-day average. That’s less than half the weekly average of 3,500 new cases per day that the state was experiencing a year ago.

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Kathie Obradovich
Kathie Obradovich

Editor Kathie Obradovich has been covering Iowa government and politics for more than 30 years, most recently as political columnist and opinion editor for the Des Moines Register. She previously covered the Iowa Statehouse for 10 years for newspapers in Davenport, Waterloo, Sioux City, Mason City and Muscatine. She is a leading voice on Iowa politics and makes regular appearances on state, national and international news programs. She has led national-award-winning coverage of the Iowa Caucuses and the Register’s Iowa Poll.